Miniball offers bite-sized performances with larger than life talent

Miniball kicks off this weekend.

Every Fall, Philadelphians can find Almanac Dance Circus Theater’s annual Cannonball Festival as part of the ever-popular Philadelphia Fringe Festival. And though its only spring in 2023, those who are looking to indulge in everything the colorful activation has to offer are in luck with the return of Miniball.

This “bite-sized” micro-version of the Cannonball Festival features encores of previous Cannonball shows, as well as first looks at new shows that will be centerpieces of the Fringe later this year. It all starts on April 1 with the second annual Cast Off Soiree, which is part of Philly Theatre Week.

Cast Off takes place April 1.Provided

This particular activation is said to take risks—or, as the release puts it: Philadelphians can expect food and flowing drinks, live music, show excerpts, a “sexy crowd of the city’s most daring independent artists,” and plenty of fun surprises. Following the kick-off celebration, 13 performances will take place featuring six local artists at the MAAS Building from April 6-8. And this iteration of Miniball will also feature the work of four trans and non-binary artists or artist groups.

Performances include ‘Your Show’ by John Miller Giltner, ‘Daughter of the Sea’ by Laura Lizcano, ‘Sarah Knittel/Marina Abramović’ by Sarah Knittel, ‘Make Me Out of Clay’ by Ella-Gabriel Mason and ‘Tartar’s Wormhole’ by Alex Tatarsky. This weekend of performances ultimately will lead to the debut of ‘The Other Gardeners’ by Very Good Dance Theatre—which was created by Colby Calhoun (they/she).

As a release states, in 2019, Calhoun founded Very Good Dance Theatre, a queer-led and BIPOC-centered experimental performance collaborative, which makes its Philadelphia debut this spring with ‘The Other Gardeners.’ This show, set in the remnants of what was once the Garden of Eden, is an experimental dance theatre performance exploring themes of lineage, burden, and visions of liberation through community.

“I think Black queer narratives around both our lineage and the liberation we’re working toward are super important — especially now, where we are at very real threat of extermination,” said Calhoun in a statement. “So, I’m very excited to have the space at Miniball to explore and experiment with how I get to share my story with myself, my stage partner, and the community.”

Very Good Dance Theatre. Provided

On top of this year’s Miniball, the organization is also seeking artists for this year’s Fringe Festival, which will run September 1-30. In 2022, Cannonball produced 28 works over 21 days for 150 performances in a single venue during the Philadelphia Fringe, welcoming over 2,500 audience members and winning three overall Fringie Awards.

Last year, Fringe amassed a record number of submissions, and those who head out to the Festival in September can expect an assortment of live theatrical and dance performances, art installations, circus arts, and genre-bending experiences that highlight the wide variety of local and national talent that the festival continuously attracts. Or, in Fringe’s words, visitors can catch artistically daring performances from national and international artists curated by FringeArts, plus, both live and digital works produced by independent artists from across Philadelphia and beyond.

Through Cannonball specifically (aka the first and the largest “Hub” of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival) all artists from different disciplines are being offered production opportunities. Cannonball has always been an organization based on trying to bridge the community with creativity to ultimately create social events and preview opportunities while also carefully curating inclusive social spaces to hang out in. That rings true for everything they do from the Miniball to Fringe and beyond.

Sarah Knittel. Emilie Krause

Cannonball is specifically offering buy-in options, co-presenting options, and split bills with four stipend tracks. As a release states, the stipend tracks are competitive presentation and/or development tracks which come with additional opportunities and resources. Each stipend track  is panel-adjudicated, and requires additional application questions. This will mark the second year of the BIPOC New Work Presentation Track, which offers a $2,750 stipend to BIPOC artists presenting new-full length works of any discipline.

The release also states that new this year are: the Performance for Younger Audiences Development Cohort which offers mentorship, development support, and a $750 stipend; CSAW Award for New Work by Circus Artists of Color which comes with a $5,600 stipend; and Snack Track for Small Audience and Immersive Works (applications and further information are available on the festival’s website.)

Ticket prices vary for Miniball, which will take place at the Maas Building, 1325 N. Randolph Street.  Tickets and more information can be found at the festival’s website at